SCOTUS Confirms Affirmative Action, Upholding Lower Court Rulings Against Abigail Fisher

US Supreme Court

Supreme Court affirms Affirmative Action, upholding a massive blow against mediocrity and race-based privilege.

Despite the fact that her race was never held against her during the University of Texas (UT) admissions process, a student sued UT because their “second choice” admissions selection process takes race into consideration. This case made it to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), and on Thursday the SCOTUS ruled that hurt feelings do not constitute discrimination.

In a 4-3 ruling, that student, Abigail Fisher, lost her case against UT, upholding Affirmative Action as constitutional. Kennedy penned the majority decision, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, dissented. Justice Elena Kagan, a Democrat, abstained from the vote due to having worked on this case before she became a SCOTUS judge.

From the SCOTUS decision:

Petitioner Abigail Fisher, who was not in the top 10% of her high school class, was denied admission to the University’s 2008 freshman class. She filed suit, alleging that the University’s consideration of race as part of its holistic-review process disadvantaged her and other Caucasian applicants, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The District Court entered summary judgment in the University’s favor, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. This Court vacated the judgment, Fisher v. University of Tex. at Austin, 570 U. S. ___ (Fisher I), and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals, so the University’s program could be evaluated under the proper strict scrutiny standard. On remand, the Fifth Circuit again affirmed the entry of summary judgment for the University. Held: The race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of petitioner’s application is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

Fisher, who didn’t meet the basic requirements to be accepted to the University at all, is angry because she thinks that being white was held against her. UT accepts all Texas students in the top 10 percent of their class, and the average SAT score is in the 12oos. If you fail to make the top ten percent, UT uses two indices to decide who will fill the remaining admissions slots: Academic Achievement and Personal Achievement.

She ignored the fact that her Academic Index would have kept her out of the prestigious university, period, according to UT lawyer Gregory Garre. Instead, she sued because students with better academics than her could have also received a higher Personal Achievement score than her because that score incorporates race.

Gregory Garre said:

Even if Abigail Fisher had received a perfect Personal Achievement Index score she would not have been admitted … because her Academic Index was simply not high enough. Fisher would not have been admitted, no matter what her race.

She lost, and lost, because there was never even a racial consideration against her, despite her really, really believing there was. She kept kicking and screaming, figurative hands over her ears, pushing the case to the SCOTUS in an attempt to destroy Affirmative Action so that other white students who didn’t score as high academically could be chosen over minority students.

Low Socioeconomic Status (SES) and race or ethnicity are “intimately intertwined,” as SES can be determined by race, and SES often has an impact on the ability to utilize extracurricular activities available to students. You see, we know that just about all public high schools offer all students the same kinds of activities, but advantaged students tend to participate a lot more according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This is probably because it is difficult for parents of low SES students to be able to afford the fees or there is a lack of after school transportation/time/child care needed to allow their student to participate. Low SES students, who are often minorities, can take a hit on their university applications due to lack of participation in things like Student government and sports.

Fisher never took into account that using race in their consideration process, for a part of half of the index used for admissions, actually only bridges the gap between her family’s ability to pay for cello lessons and that other academically similar students whose parents likely couldn’t afford them the same kinds of “University application filling” activities. Remember, though, she thought she was being discriminated against, not because she missed the academic bar to attend her dream college but because she has white skin.

But the court did take those things into account and found that using race as a part of the index didn’t violate her right to equal protections and that the “holistic” nature of UT’s selection criteria was not a quota system.

Perhaps, if she had worked as hard on her grades as those other students had, she would have been attending the University, not losing a lawsuit against it.

Full SCOTUS Decision here: